It was an honor to speak at Gearhart Law’s Inventors Tell All: How To Break Into a Crowded Market panel where our host David Postolski asked interesting questions to spur the conversation. I learned so much from my fellow speakers Mike Indursky and Manuel Saez who shared their insights into how they got started in their respective industries.
If you missed the talk, I wanted to share a few insights into what we talked about and what the key takeaways are that could help you in your journey of entrepreneurship.
Know Your Market
It sounds straightforward, but sometimes we miss understanding the market we are getting ourselves into. One of my main points during the speaker panel was knowing the market you are in and how innovation can happen within that market. Legacy companies and investors like proven markets, but when you are creating something new, it definitely doesn’t fit that standard definition. This can lead to challenges of innovation and proving the need for your idea in your market.
From my own experience, customers know best! In the case of creating my heatless hair curler RobeCurls, I was a frustrated customer before I became an inventor in the heatless hair industry. I was tired of frying my hair with a curling iron and none of the heatless hair DIY approaches created consistent results for me. As the growing trend of using a bathrobe belt grew on TikTok, I was hooked on the idea of creating something better.
Now my product is the number one knockoff item you can get on Amazon. That part is frustrating, but my point is there was a need for innovation in the industry but it was lagging behind because big companies weren’t interested in the risk of something new. I had to make an entirely new category by myself.
Hustle, Care, and Mentorship
Mike Indursky was on the panel and he is a trusted advisor, mentor, and just an all-around good human being. He created the brand Hear Me Raw (which you can check out his products here. Mike brought wisdom to the call from his many years of experience in the beauty industry. He faced challenges where so many things failed or didn’t work. Instead of accepting defeat, he would pivot, pivot, and pivot again. He has shown how the hustle and care for an idea make an inventive idea possible.
Everyone on the panel agreed that mentorship is also a key element in success. I always give the advice to look where you want to be and seek mentors that are a few steps ahead of you. I have mentors like Sara Blakely who are miles ahead of me, but she brings a higher level element to mentorship that I certainly took a leap towards (you can watch how I took that leap and proposed to her here.
Mentorship can help grow your business, help you navigate obstacles, and be comforting when you aren’t sure which direction to go.
Find People You Can Be Honest With
Manuel Saez owns the company Beyond that simplifies how people access and own micro vehicles (you can check out his company here). His insight that I found to be true in my business too is to surround yourself with good people who you can be honest with. Other entrepreneurs can give insight to your own experiences in the industry, or you may even learn something by sharing your own story. That level of vulnerability allows for businesses to grow and work around challenges.
Manuel said when he is in search of wisdom, or if people are going through a challenge and reach out to him, he also can learn from them too. So the key takeaway is to share your time with good people who can give you valuable feedback.
Patents and Protection
There were several guiding statements about patents and protections surrounding ideas. Some companies utilize patents to protect their designs or as Manual put it, ward off any ideas of manufacturers who may be inclined to copy a design or sell it to someone else. In the case of RobeCurls, I launched before the patents were approved, but I knew the market was moving swiftly. It was a much different patent process than when I waited for Straplets to be approved before launching.
The panel had a great discussion about what worked for their products and gave valuable insight to a question from an audience member. The key takeaway with patents is understanding what kind you need and if it is something you plan to pursue if it needs further protection. Applying for patents can also help solidify your place in the market and make it easier to apply for more patents down the road.
Seeing The Everyday As Reward
Manual brought in not only business advice, but life advice too. He shared that his perspective changed when he shifted away from seeing the end goal as the reward. It can be easy to miss the everyday adventure when you are so focused on the end result, and the panel gave a good reminder about how rewarding everyday progress can be.
Mike gave his insight too that you learn, you move on, but you will get there with tremendous amounts of discipline and energy.
If you’re wondering about my end advice, it would be the phrase on my favorite mug. Enjoy the adventure. You have to lean in and enjoy this journey of starting a business. There will be ups and downs, but you are bringing something incredible to life that is worth it. It is a purpose greater than just building a company.
Thanks to Gearhart Law for hosting a great panel where we all could share insights and learn something new. Check out Gearhart Law’s upcoming panels here.